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2020 is looking to be a pivotal year in politics. But this year's elections are about much more than the race for the White House. And the coronavirus pandemic is proving to be a complicating factor. WKSU, our colleagues at public radio stations across Ohio and the region and at NPR will bring you coverage of all the races from the national to the local level.

Morning Headlines: DeWine To Propose Tax Credit Programs, Stark Judge Tosses Rover Lawsuit

a photo of governor Mike DeWine speaking
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine

Here are your morning headlines for Thursday, March 14: 

  • DeWine to propose tax credit programs;
  • Heartbeat bill clears the Senate;
  • Stark County judge dismisses state's Rover Pipeline lawsuit;
  • Ohio Senate says decreased gas tax still too high;
  • Hospital reviews 48 nurses, pharmacists over dosages, deaths;
  • DeWine doesn't think GM will revive assembly plant;
  • Ohio's congressional map in hands of federal judges;
  • 5 govenors oppose Trump plan to cut Great Lakes spending;
  • Cleveland drug trafficking ring charged;

DeWine to propose tax credit programs
Gov. Mike DeWine has proposed a new income tax credit for businesses that invest in economically distressed areas of Ohio. DeWine said it would be a 10 percent income tax credit for “Opportunity Zones,” which are local areas that are low income but have development opportunities.  There are 320 Opportunity Zones in the state. 16 of them are in Summit County. He said the tax credit will be included in his proposed budget.

DeWine also proposed tax credits aimed at making Northeast Ohio homes lead-safe. DeWine said the new tax credit would be up to $10,000 for middle-class families who safely remove lead-based paint from their homes. He also plans to set aside $450,000 over the next two years to combat lead hazards. He plans to give more details in his budget proposal Friday, but it won’t include any funds for cleaning up homes with lead hazards. 

Heartbeat bill clears the Senate
The Republican-led Ohio Senate has again passed a measure to ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected. The 19-13 vote Wednesday sends the so-called heartbeat bill to the Republican-controlled House. GOP Gov. Mike DeWine has indicated he'd sign such a ban. It would be among the most restrictive abortion measures in the country. A fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks into pregnancy, before many women know they're pregnant. Similar measures approved by Ohio lawmakers were twice vetoed by DeWine's predecessor, GOP Gov. John Kasich.

Stark County judge dismisses state's lawsuit against Rover Pipeline
A Stark County judge has thrown out a lawsuit against the pipeline developer accused of polluting wetlands across the state. The lawsuit asked the court to order Rover Pipeline to pay a civil penalty of up to $10,000 per day for each violation, including a massive spill in Stark County in 2017. The Canton Repository reports that Judge Kristin Farmer ruled the Ohio EPA waived its right to regulate pipeline construction. The judge said the state had a year to act on Rover’s application seeking to discharge pollutants under the Clean Water Act, and failed to do so. Instead, Ohio EPA asked Rover to resubmit its application, which was approved.

Ohio Senate says decreased gas tax still too high
Ohio Senate leaders are hinting that the House’s 10.7 cent per gallon hike in the state’s gas tax may still be too much. Gov. Mike DeWine had proposed an 18 cent jump in the gas tax to fill a more than $1 billion hole in the state’s road construction fund. The Columbus Dispatch reports that Senate President Larry Obhof of Medina said the Senate’s increase will likely be less than what the House approved. Other Senate leaders say increased funding for public transit is also not likely to be part of the Senate’s version of the bill. House lawmakers had approved $100 million for urban and rural transit agencies. The transportation budget must be approved by March 31.

Hospital reviews 48 nurses, pharmacists over dosages, deaths
The Ohio hospital system where an intensive-care doctor is accused of ordering painkiller overdoses for dozens of patients says it has made more changes at the hospital where nearly all those deaths occurred. Mount Carmel Health System said that 48 nurses and pharmacists under review have been reported to regulatory boards. It also says Mount Carmel West in Columbus has new interim clinical leadership and new leaders in its intensive care unit. Mount Carmel fired the doctor, William Husel, in December. It also publicly apologized. Husel and Mount Carmel face at least two dozen lawsuits.

DeWine doesn't think GM will revive assembly plant
Gov. Mike DeWine said it seems clear that General Motors isn't planning on making a new line of vehicles at its Lordstown assembly plant that shut down last week. Union leaders are hoping GM will agree during contract talks this summer to bring a new vehicle to the plant. DeWine told The Youngstown Vindicator that GM has given no hints about using the plant again. He also says the automaker has indicated it's talking with another company about using the site, but GM won't yet say who.

Ohio's congressional map in hands of federal judges
The future of Ohio's congressional district map is in the hands of three federal judges. Testimony concluded Wednesday about a lawsuit charging that the GOP-controlled redistricting resulted in an unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering. After considering post-trial legal briefs from attorneys, the judges are expected to rule within weeks on a case that could potentially result in a change of the congressional map for 2020 elections. Their decision is likely to be appealed to the Supreme Court.

5 govenors oppose Trump plan to cut Great Lakes spending
Governors of five states oppose President Donald Trump's call for a 90 percent spending cut for a Great Lakes cleanup program. The president's 2020 budget offers $30 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which gets $300 million most years. It removes toxic pollution, prevents algae blooms and species invasions, and restores wildlife habitat. The governors of Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Illinois said Wednesday the cut would cost jobs, hurt tourism and jeopardize public health. They urged Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, a former Indiana governor, to fully fund the program.

Cleveland drug trafficking ring charged
Twenty-two people have been charged for drug trafficking in Cleveland. Authorities said the drug trafficking ring sold heroin, fentanyl and other synthetic opioids to over 300 people in Cleveland's east side. Six of the 22 are still not in custody.

Amanda Rabinowitz has been a reporter, host and producer at WKSU since 2007. After serving as WKSU's Morning Edition host for a dozen years, she moved to afternoons in March of 2022 to become the local host of All Things Considered. In addition to providing local news and weather, she interviews Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com for a weekly commentary about Northeast Ohio's sports scene called The View From Pluto. She also hosts and produces Shuffle, a podcast focusing on Northeast Ohio’s music scene.